Civic Knowledge ensures that journalists, public advocacy groups, research groups, watchdogs, and other civic organizations have access to the public data they require to be effective. Civic Knowledge cleans and links public datasets, offers access to a data warehouse, and provides a forum for civic data analysts. Success for Civic Knowledge means civic organizations can answer data-driven questions faster, with less expense, and with more certainty that the answers are correct.
Civic organizations have never had more access to data. Worldwide open government initiatives, decades of transparency efforts, and the Internet revolution mean that for nearly any question a journalist or nonprofit organization wants to answer, there is an appropriate dataset somewhere on the Internet. But data is not knowledge, and, unfortunately, the flood of data has, for many organizations, simply increased expectations for reporting and given them yet another technical area to hire for and manage.
The deluge has also created a new inefficiency: because there are few ways to share the results of their efforts, many organizations are performing the same basic data quality tasks on the same data. Of the time allocated to analyzing data, a journalist will spend about 70% of the time finding and preparing data, and only 30% of the time actually doing analysis.
Civic Knowledge works with journalists, nonprofit organizations, data analysts, and data producers to ensure that users can:
- Find high-quality, high-value data for common data questions.
- Use tools and skills they already have to access and analyze data.
- Share and index improvements to public data.
- Perform many types of analysis without special skills or staff.
Civic Knowledge provides:
- A Data Warehouse that collects and links datasets from the repository into a form suitable for analysis. Users can connect common analysis tools to the data.
- A question-and-answer forum for data analysts and nonprofit data consumers, similar to Stack Exchange.
- A market for data that allows groups to buy and sell data, collaborate on expensive projects, and hire people to do analysis jobs.
- A data repository for the work done by the data analysts, with links to existing repositories such as CKAN and Socrata. The repository also allows users to publish modifications to datasets and analyses of datasets.
Civic Knowledge will fill an important gap in programs for many organizations. Interest in Open Government Data and transparency has grown dramatically in the last 10 years, with most open government groups involved in the following activities: advocating that governments release data, publishing the data, or using the data. These groups have been successful in making data available, so Civic Knowledge fills the gap between finding government data and doing something useful with the data.
Several markets are appropriate targets for Civic Knowledge. Some of these markets include:
- Investigative reporting, which often has both a need for data and underutilized data analysts.
- Watchdog groups, who perform complex analyses on political and contribution datasets.
- Public research groups, such as the Equinox Center or the Sightline Institute.
- Planning groups that require demographic and geographic information.
Civic Knowledge is still an early concept, and we are currently doing market research. If you are interested in Civic Knowledge and would like to learn more or become involved, please contact Eric Busboom at 858-386-4134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.